By Grace Elizabeth Hale
At mid-century, american citizens more and more fell in love with characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher within the Rye and Marlon Brando's Johnny in The Wild One, musicians like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and activists just like the contributors of the coed Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. those feelings enabled a few middle-class whites to chop freed from their very own histories and establish with those that, whereas missing monetary, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own in its place important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the US.
In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural background, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds mild on why such a lot of white middle-class americans selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment half the 20 th century and explains how this extraordinary shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties during the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land stream, the Jesus humans stream, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to put their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very that means of "authenticity" and "community."
Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an inventive solution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the will for a morally significant and actual existence.
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Additional resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
For many American intellectuals, especially former leftists who had retained the form if not the content of their past Marxism, contradictions did not simply exist. They aroused people to political action and resolution, unless something intervened to mask the truth. At mid-century, many intellectuals decided that this new opiate of the masses was something they called “mass culture,” commercialized, mass-produced forms of expression from popular music and film to clothing and paperback fiction.
In front of an audience, self-expression becomes a larger, less individual and more social act. Salinger turns existentialism’s emphasis on action, its acts of refusal, into the act of representing acts of refusal, into autobiography. The actor in life becomes instead an actor in representing that life. And this difference—that the seeker can salvage meaning not just through acting in the world but also by expressing his feelings to the world—will be one of the most important characteristics of postwar rebellion.
The Alienation of Holden Caulﬁeld By the end of the decade, marketing experts and advice columnists, ministers and law enforcement officials, politicians and academics had all discovered adolescent rebellion. In 1951, however, J. D. Salinger walked Holden Caulfield right into the middle of a time when most white kids at least were supposed to be happy. Sure, American troops were fighting and losing in Korea. A book called How to Survive an Atomic Bomb seriously advised people in danger to drop to the ground and shield their eyes and keep their heads.
A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America by Grace Elizabeth Hale